October 13, 2014
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Hornell, NY , The Hornell Housing Authority of Steuben County has decided to go smoke free. For the safety and health of their residents, as well as their building structures, as of October 1st Hornell Housing Authority has implemented a 100% smoke free indoor policy, and an outdoor smoke policy that limits smoking to a designated area on each of their three main complexes and single family homes. The Policy was unanimously approved by the seven member Housing Authority Board of Commissioners and subsequently approved by the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development in June 2014. The Policy will cover all 158 of the Authority’s Public Housing apartments.
The smoking policy has been put in place by Hornell Housing Authority for health concerns and legal and financial reasons. There is no safe level of secondhand smoke and secondhand smoke easily migrates from one unit to another through doorways, cracks, electrical lines, plumbing, and ventilation systems. Children and elderly are especially susceptible to the effects of secondhand smoke. It can increase risk of premature death, respiratory problems, ear infections, lung cancer, and heart disease. Legally, a smoke free policy is beneficial because no court to date has upheld that there is any legal right to smoke in federally subsidized housing, nor is the right to smoke inside or outside a state or federal constitutional right. Also, it can be possible for nonsmokers to bring legal action against owners and smoking tenants for breach of covenant of quiet enjoyment, negligence, nuisance, and breach of warranty of habitability, and under the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act if tenants have lung or respiratory issues. Lastly, savings to the Authority will also result as there will be fewer instances of burned counter tops, floors, and carpets, as well as less labor and materials will be needed to rehab a unit after smoking occupants move out. Fire risk and destruction from water and smoke will also be greatly reduced.
Hornell Housing Authority started their process to go smoke free in January of this year. Communication with their tenants was key in their process. Tenants were involved in the process from the beginning when Hornell started with a survey to get tenants input about a smoke free policy. The clear majority of tenants preferred a smoke free environment. Residents were also involved in the process going through. Hornell Housing Authority Director, Jason Sackett, met with the resident council every other week to discuss concerns.
One major encouragement for the Authority stated by Jason Sackett was that even just after collecting the survey he had tenants calling his office to tell him that they had quit because of the possibility of a smoke free policy.
“At least 20 other Housing Authorities in New York State have adopted smoke free policies and we are also proud to institute the policy. Clearly, smoking and the use of Tobacco not only damages the apartments, but allow for unnecessary exposure of harmful second hand smoke to residents, resident’s children, staff, and authority contractors.”
“Moving forward, enforceability of the Policy will also be key.All residents and applicants will be required to sign lease addendums recognizing the policy. Although the Policy was just recently instituted, the Housing Authority wait list has not been impacted and occupancy levels are still stable. There was definitely a shock value to rolling out the policy, but just as restaurants and bars have adjusted to going smoke free, our residents will adapt and be healthier and safer for going smoke free. At the end of the day, we must protect the health and safety of our residents and safeguard taxpayer investment in our assets.”
Quoted from Hornell Housing Authority Jason Sackett.
STTAC, Southern Tier Tobacco Awareness Coalition, will be providing the Hornell Housing Authority with free signage and would like to commend them for taking action to protect the health of their community.
The Southern Tier Tobacco Awareness Coalition (STTAC), a program of the New York State Bureau of Tobacco Control, seeks to build healthier communities in Chemung, Schuyler and Steuben counties by working to decrease the impact of tobacco on our community, by preventing youth initiation and promoting smoke-free environments. Information on the Coalition can be obtained by going to www.sttac.org.